The 2018 Georgia PGA Match Play Championship has reached the quarterfinal round, with the top three seeds all knocked out of the tournament while the number 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 seeds all remain.
Shawn Koch and David Potts, both instructors at Country Club of the South and former Match Play champions, defeated the tournament’s top two seeds in the third round, while the No. 3 seed was unable to survive a portion of the draw that served as the equivalent of World Cup soccer’s “Group of Death.”
Koch, seeded 17th, defeated top-seeded Kyle Owen of Dunwoody CC 2-up to reach the quarterfinals. Potts, seeded 15th, got past three-time champion Tim Weinhart, an instructor at Heritage Golf Links, in 19 holes to reach the quarterfinals. Weinhart was seeded second.
After winning the tournament at Callaway Gardens in 2007, Koch advanced to the semifinals in ’08 and the quarterfinals in ’09, but did not make it past the quarterfinals again until reaching that round last year. He won his first two matches 8&6 and 5&4. Owen reached the finals at Peachtree GC last year before losing to Peachtree head pro Donn Perno.
Potts won the Match Play Championship in 2010 at the UGA course in Athens, defeating Weinhart in the finals, and has made it to the quarters twice since – in 2012 and ’15. He defeated Perno, who also won the tournament in 2013, 4&3 in the second round. Weinhart won back-to-back in 2011 at Chattahoochee GC and the next year at UGA, and reached the semis in 2015 and ’16.
The semifinals and finals of this year’s Match Play event will again be played at Peachtree on Sept. 17 after originally being scheduled for August 13. Because of heavy rains around the state this spring, the opening round was pushed back about a month. Players schedule their matches at a site they determine for the first four rounds before the event concludes at Peachtree, which has hosted the final two rounds since 2014.
Brian Dixon of Fox Creek, the third seed, lost in the second round to Capital City Club’s J.P. Griffin on the 20th hole, the first time Dixon has lost before the third round in the tournament since 2005. Dixon, who won the event in 1997, lost in the third round eight straight times from 2006-13 before winning at Peachtree in 2014 and reaching the quarters the last three years.
Griffin defeated 2015 runner-up Matthew Evans of GC of Georgia 3&2 in the first round, but was eliminated by 19th seeded Bill Murchison of Towne Lake Hills on the 19th hole in the third round.
Murchison drew 2009 finalist Michael Parrott of Brookfield CC in the first round and won easily, then advanced on a concession from Jennings Mill’s Seth McCain, the 2016 champion, in the second round before getting a tough match from Griffin. Murchison reached the semifinals in 2013 and advanced to the quarters three times between 2009 and 2015, twice losing to the eventual champion.
Koch and Murchison will both play newcomers to the latter stages of the Match Play Championship in the quarterfinals. Koch will face No. 8 seed Justin Martin from the First Tee of Atlanta, while Murchison plays No. 6 Peter Jones of Cherokee Town & CC.
Martin defeated No. 24 Bill Daggett of West Lake CC 2-up in the third round after Daggett knocked off No. 9 Danny Elkins of Georgia Golf Center 3&2 in the second round.
Jones won 2&1 in the third round over No. 11 Chris Cartwright of West Pines after getting past Ryan Joyce of Hawks Ridge 1-up in his opening match.
Potts will play seventh seeded Craig Stevens, an instructor at Woodmont, in the quarterfinals. Stevens got past Bill Hassell of Cartersville CC 2&1 in the third round after winning by the same score over Ansley GC’s Phil Taylor in his previous match. Stevens won the tournament in 2000 at Sea Island GC and has finished as runner-up three times since, most recently in 2012 and ’13.
The other quarterfinal match will pit the two highest remaining seeds, as No. 4 Sonny Skinner of Spring Hill in Tifton will take on No. 5 Todd Ormsby of Highland CC in LaGrange.
Skinner scored a pair of impressive wins to reach the quarters, defeating Hank Smith of Frederica GC 3&2 in the second round and Patrick Richardson of Sea Island GC 5&4 in the third round. Skinner won the Match Play at Callaway Gardens in 2006, the first year he was eligible for the event, and reached either the quarters or semis five times between 2007 and ’15 before losing in the title match to McCain two years ago.
Ormsby won his opening match 2&1 before rolling to a pair of 6&5 wins in his next two matches, defeating 2003 champion Gregg Wolff of Willow Lake in the second round. The farthest Ormsby has advanced in the tournament was the quarterfinals in 2016, when he lost to Skinner, who is one of four former Match Play champions left in the field.